Now, I don’t know how old you are, and being Southern, am too polite to ask, but do you remember days without air conditioning? I sure do!
I often say to my husband “I’m so glad I live in the air conditioned generation”. But it wasn’t all that long ago that I was a young girl, growing up in Sydney, Florida…and no air conditioning!
I hear people say, that the heat wasn’t as hot back then. I don’t know where they got that because as I remember it, it was just as brutal.
I remember having a box fan in the window, and I do remember this one fan thing my parents had. You put ice in a dish on top or cold water, and it blew out cold, ok…cooler, air. I’d sit in front of that box just trying to get cooled off. Some people say that you didn’t feel the heat as much back then. I did…and I remember!
I had lots of cousins all around me. We’d play all day outside and by the time evening came and it was time to come in, we were filthy and sweaty and our mother’s would have to scrub us down.
The one thing worse than being hot and sweating at home was at church! I remember Sister Eunice, a lady of rather large proportions. She wasn’t really my sister, and we weren’t catholic, but because I was raised by a good southern mama, anybody that was older than me either got called Mr/Mrs. or if it was church folk your talking about then their name began with sister or brother. That’s just the way we were raised. “Sister” Eunice would always wear these jersey knit dresses and I remember the smell from the sweat caught in that material. She would always want to hug my neck too. So I had to keep my mouth shut and just hug.
It wasn’t until I was older that the church got “window unit” air conditioning. Before that we’d all sit in the pews and use those paper fans on a stick. You know the kind you always get at funeral homes. We had to sit beside our mother, (so she could reach around and pinch us if we got too loud). She never could be discrete about that, because invariably I’d let out a yell “ouch!” Her face would turn red and the other ladies in the congregation would just give that all-knowing “nod”, and then I’d be sitting there praying she forgot about it by the time the alter call was given.
Vacation Bible School at the Sydney First Church of God was always a treat. Still no air conditioning, but we got Kool-Aid and cookies! We would play outside and play a game a lot like Marco Polo, only we called out Jacob! Esau! Funny, I still remember that!
We’d leave the windows open at night so the box fans could draw in some night air. Mama would have to scold us to get back in bed and go to sleep, because we liked to sing into the fans to hear our voices vibrate. When we finally gave up and were lying in bed, I could hear the cars crossing the wooden bridge down at Turkey Creek, probably 2 miles away and then count the number of seconds it took to pass by our house.
I cherish my childhood. I had a wonderful and rich childhood and so thankful that I was fortunate enough to be raised in the south, with all my cousins around me. I still remember the miserable heat, but I think now I know what they mean when they say the heat wasn’t the same back then. The precious memories have softened the harshness of the heat. I’ll take the memories any day... but don't take away my AC!